welcome to mosaic on this summer morning. we're glad you're joining us. we'll do a profile of a religious bay lead ere. -- leader. we're excited to introduce james emmerson. he's the president of the calvary presbyterian church here. he's just turned 85 years old and we're delighted to celebrate his birthday and bring him to you. towards the end, we wanted to
get about your book, it's, forgiveness the key to a creative life. you were talking about forgiveness a long, long time ago. you're a pips will boy? -- peninsula boy? >> yes, my dad taught at stanford. i grew up there. my dad was sick most of my growing days. he had tuberculosis from world war i. i also got it from him. i really start out as being a consequence of the trenches of world war i. that's where he got the tuberculosis and ultimately, i got it from him. i didn't start school until the 3rd grade. i was home schooled and then, into the catholic school and all of that and then stanford
and then went to princeton for seminary. >> let me go back, being with tuberculosis, that was very, very serious. it was a full recovery. it was a full recovery. i have lesions on the lung that show that i have it, but no tuberculosis. the doctor said i don't have to worry about it any more than anyone else. >> you were home until 3rd grade and then went back to the campus school and again, once you were out of high school, where did you go? stanford. >> what did you -- >> well, son of a professor. my education cost me $25 a term. now, match that! >> what did you major in there? >> well, i started out thinking i was going to be a lawyer.
my dad was and so forth. came the time of the kamikaze planes in world war ii. i was studying comparative religions and recognized the comparison with the planes and the shinto. maybe the questions of the world are ideological and not legal. i thought about the ministry. i didn't think i would be a pastor. i went to seminary and got a lot out of it personally. i discovered that i would preach. it was well received on that and we found fulfillment on it. i graduated from seminary and i've been a pastor. there was one time when i broke out from that because of my
other background in psychology and counseling. i ended up being the head of the community services. >> i want to go back -- you're 25 years old when you graduated from three years of seminary. you wake up and say, what am i going to do? >> i was 22 when i graduated from seminary. i was the product, because of the war, they were pushing us through as fast as they could. we went to school in the summer. not because we were smart, we just went round the clock. i graduated at the age of 19. again, not because i was smart, but because they kept us going and then, i went into seminary. along comes the a bomb and the
war is over. it felt like a call and i became a pastor. that's a good place to break. the bombs go off and he has choices to make in life, we'll be back. did you know that getting up and getting active for just 60 minutes a day is all it takes to help you get stronger, look better, and feel great? or that fresh fruits and veggies aren't just healthier and crunchier, they can taste better, too? eating better and getting more active is easier than you think.
whether you believed in god or not, this became interesting to me. i came to a view that we're very much determined by the perspective for which we stand and look at the world. you have a perspective and so do i. these relate to our background. these are our thing. i really spent my life trying to understand individual's perspectives. i want to know where they are in terms of their perspective, help them help themselves in terms of dealing with a marriage, a divorce and business decisions and whatever. >> you've gone between teaching
and being a parrish pastor. right out of seminary, what did you choose? >> i was an assistant minister in philadelphia, working with young people. primarily with younger people. that was exciting. i wasn't that much older than they were, we were all thinking of the same things. it was a rather conservative church, we went to a beach home in new jersey and opened a closet and here was a liquor closet, we had conservation on that. now, let's say, you were married to a wonderful, spectacular woman. she's no longer with us. how did you all meet? her father was pastor in
new york. i was going through struggles relative to my open parent's divorce and i went to him because of his reputation of counseling. i got so much help from that. i moved more and more in that direction. i never said i want to do what he did. but, in effect, that was the inspiration and the motivation. so i went on and did get formal training in psychotherapy and sonsabling. -- and counseling. karl rogers was my mentor. i went through all of that. at that time, i had to say, i'm one of the few with doctor training in counseling and also, a minister. my whole life has been in academics. >> she had degrees in this,
too? >> yes, she was a counselor making a living. i wanted to work in the pastoral. >> you were married when? >> september 18th, 1952. >> and children? yes, we have john, he's a lawyer, head of a major program in southern california in the area of communication. we have a daughter who lives up in napa. she graduated from college, also. -- in colorado. then, our youngest is jed. he's developed a view called blended values. you look at stocks you're going to buy from the social impact value. >> the name of the company?
>> well, he's independant now. he's in new york and he consults. he does quite a bit -- >> blended values? >> and you find yourself, then, in the east. you're an assistant pastor and hopscotch us to denver. >> well, after -- well, a while, the church of forest hills was a church of about 250 members in a 90% jewish area. forest hills was where everyone was and i was involved in that and i had a wonderful time with rabbis. we got along well. one new synagogue was getting started and they started in my church. and you went to the u.s. open together. that's how that started an then, from there, i received a call from a large church across
the hudson river in bloomfield, new jersey. that was a multiple staffed church. also, because of the fact that i was one of the few people with this kind of training that stayed in the perish and didn't go into full time counseling, i was in demand, to be frank. >> why did you stay in the perish? >> i wanted to if where the action with us. you could do so much from the parrish. you didn't have power, but you had influence. we were just trying natural things and put in situations to meet the people and i had an invitation to go down and meet the president of the united states one time, it was nixon. regardless of people's politics, that was quite moving. >> i would think.
dr. james emmerson is with us. i want to talk about following the thread and how you got to san francisco. you said that on break that growing up, you were a guide at stanford and took people around. that gave you an incite on how to relate to people? >> yes, it did. i discovered in the first place, they're just people. i had read a book about the training of the king of
england. in it, it was by a footman. they said, be sure you know how to get him to the lavatory. just that pay sick. -- basic. i figured out where all of the lavatories were and i'm there on this one occasion and this man from arabia is there and he needs to know and i knew. >> and so you knew. >> well, but the skill you developed with people is important. you're able to pastor churches. there are people with significant secular positions in broadcasting and printing. tell us about your people skills. maybe incite that someone watching. >> and on the otherside, i was comfortable in the center of harlem or the poorest sections of new york. the question is, how did that go together.
it starts with family, that you're brutum that people d, that you're brought up that people are people. my mother came by, we had a japanese gardner friend. he had no place to stay, my mother said, stay with us. i grew up of people of all different types living in the home, and respecting them as people and what they did and what they could do. >> that's a good lesson for us to remember there. people as people. >> you went to denver and pastored there for seven years? >> well, a shorter time than i wish it had been. about seven years. >> >> and then, you came to calvary, san francisco.
still, a wonderful congregation. how do you decide to move from church to church? what are the factors in that? >> well, there's a question of, what i think are the factors and the questions as to what are the factors. when calvary expressed an interesting to me, i was a californian. you went where you thought god wanted you to be. i said that i thought god wanted me to be at this church. she looked at me and said, if you would simply tell me you would have loved to be in california, i would handle that better than wrestling with god. there was a truth in what she was saying. that also teaches me, we have to be careful in what we attribute to god. my wife had gone on and gotten
her doctrine as a psychotherapist and we were able to come here and she was able to set up work and she was a professional psychotherapist in the bay area and very well loved, known and appreciated. we had our careers here together. that's where a new life started when we came here. we were a team. i respected her work and she respected mine. from then open, whatever we did, we did together. i was part of her and she a part of me. when it became time retire, it was because we had the invitation to teach in japan, in china, in korea, and india. we took a year in each of the countries. >> so, a career is not everything. >> what's been most difficult about living alone since her untimely death?
>> the sense of loss. no matter what you say, it has nothing to do with faith. i believe in god and that she's fine and she's in god's hands, all of that. it's that sense of loss. bishop pike, some remember here. a friend of the pike family told me, when he died, someone said to mrs. pike, he's with god and she said, i'm fine about him being with god, but not now, i want him with me. and that's what i feel like. >> every day? >> yes, i think about her and misher greatly. i'm supposed to say, what would jesus do, i want to say, what would she do. she's a part of me and to think about what she would do in
my wife was a photographer. back from one of the trips, she stopped to see my dad. the call i got was to say, i want to tell you that your father and i have forgiven each other. what that did to free me, to begin with, they had always allowed me to have a good relationship with the other. i never was pitted. i got a sense of freedom out of it. i began to think of it more and more and read about forgiveness not as a theory, but emotional dynamic. the emotional dynamic is, how
do you realize forgiveness. you say, i'm forgiven. how do you help others feel forgiven. i came up with the concept of real life forgiveness. i did a pack on the dynamics of forgiveness. it had a lot of research on it. it wasn't my best writing. it was the foundation work finally, i tried to put this together three years later. thanks to mri, we know more about the brain than we knew before. i studied that material and now, that we know what happens
in the brain in regards to forgiveness, how would i rethink the matter of the experience. that's what this book is. i've made a real attempt to write it for everyone. >> this is a new work, the word of someone 82 to 85 years young. that's right. forgiveness, let's give it again, key to the creative life. >> if anyone's interested, the bookstore orders it. easier, you can get it on the internet. >> you're not done at 85? >> i feel like there's something for me to do. i'm excited about the future and i think i've got, well, my sons tell me i'll make it to 95. i have five good years ahead, what will i do with them?
>> what are your choices? well, you're given me the opportunity here, i thank you for that. i'm taking this summer to think that through. my expectation is, i'll say to the seminary and the church, i'm here, if you have a place you need that, let me know. >> that way you can teach and men store. -- mentor. would you take the same path? >> there's a providence of god that dis you. -- guides you. every person's life is a plan of god. i think there's a place for each of us if we can figure out where it is, i think it will come to you. doors will open and some close.
i'm going through doors as they open. and that's an important approach to faith and theology. your beliefs have changed and challenged. amid-the doubt and this and that. this keeps going and the doors keep going. >> and i'll say to you at the age of 40, when a lot of people have midlife crisis or whatever, i have my own. i wasn't sure i believed in god any more. i want back in the vat and back to the beginning and my dreams and everything else, of what i thought as a child, i worked through my themology -- theology. i said, this is my problem. that happens to one, i would say, take the opportunity to work it through. you'll work it through and get a faith that fits you where you are. >> and the story i remember, you went to your board church